Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lambic Jazz Vol.10


With Thanksgiving done and dusted classes resume as does the 10th edition of Lambic Jazz. I have a number of recordings of Third Stream - that curios blend of jazz and classical - it manages to draw me in even though not much of it really appeals to me. So following a short practice, here I am relaxing after class with a glass of Boon Ode Geuze while listening to The Modern Jazz Society Presents a Concert of Contemporary Music (Verve).

Lambic beer Chord Scale Theory
The recording dates from March 14, 1955 and of the six pieces, J.J Johnson’s “Turnpike” (which is a rehearsal take only) is the lone composition not from the pen of John Lewis with the arranging duties split between Gunther Schuller and Lewis for the remaining pieces. 

The ensemble size varies from 9-10 players consisting of J.J. Johnson (trb) Gunther Schuller (f.horn/arranger) James Politis (f) Aaron Sachs/Tony Scott (cl) Lucky Thompson/Stan Getz (ts) Manuel Zegler (bassoon) Janet Putnam (harp) John Lewis (p/arranger) Percy Heath (b) Connie Kay (d) with Thompson, Getz, Scott, Sachs and Johnson being the featured soloists. I was pleasantly surprised how nicely Lucky Thompson's tenor playing slotted in to the overall sound. 

Although I have enjoyed listening to this album this week (and tonight), it's not really my cup of tea. Overall it's a pretty mellow album and perhaps at times it's a little samey mood wise, but I wouldn't hesitate recommending it to fans of John Lewis, Gunther Schuller or the Third Stream. 

"Turnpike" (a variation on Monk's "Thelonious"?) gets things moving along. Strangely, the false start take of this song kicks off on the same track as the preceding "Sun Dance." That's not the only oddity. The original notes from John Lewis are printed on the back cover and the booklet contains notes from Gunther Schuller. However, Schuller's notes suffer from some poor copy editing - how didn't they notice that the middle third of the notes are missing only to have the first page repeated?!

While we're on the subjects of edits..... courtesy of a free subscription, a copy of Jazziz arrived in the mail yesterday. It's the first copy I have picked up in ages. Someone managed to miss that the Donny McCaslin article had a page missing.....oops. While it's pretty mainstream stuff it was refreshing to flick through a jazz magazine and not be bombarded with jazz education related articles and advertising.

And while we are on that subject...... jazz education, in a similar way to third stream music, also draws me in. Not because I'm sold by what it has become (far from it) but because I'm curious to find out what people have to say on the topic. I was exposed to the "chord scale" method during my undergraduate studies (actually, now that I think about things, it would have been slightly prior to that via some Aebersold play-alongs) and it never really agreed with me. The pervasiveness of the "chord scale" method in education is unsurprising due to it's black and white nature. And while I don't subscribe to it as a method for improvising, I picked up these two books - The Chord Scale Method & Jazz Harmony by Barrie Nettles and Richard Graf (Advance Music) and The Berklee Book of Jazz Harmony by Joe Mulholland and Tom Hojnacki (Berklee Press) - for some light entertainment and comparison. So far the newer of the two (the Berklee publication) seems a little more direct and to the point but I'm only about 20 pages into each - lets see if I can stick with them.

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